Germany is realizing that going green is not a reliable economic plan in the face of an energy crisis.
Europe’s largest economy is returning to the reliable stand-by of coal and ditching what many consider utopian goals of “cooling the earth.” Just weeks ago, scientists on the left said Europe had just years to save mankind from extinction, brought on by climate change.
Now, Germany and other European nations are consuming coal at the fastest pace in almost six years. It has even become one of several countries to increase imports as it becomes one of the few countries to increase imports, reports Bloomberg.
One of the oldest and cheapest sources of energy, coal, has made a comeback after soaring energy costs worldwide, particularly in Europe, which is suffering from an acute economic crisis due to declining relations with Moscow.
Several coal plants were reactivated in Europe this year because of gas shortages after being closed or mothballed under pressure from climate activists.
Global coal consumption hit a record high of over 8 billion tonnes this year, said the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Despite the spike in coal use in the European Union, carbon emissions for November were at their lowest in 30 years, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
Germany Faces Severe Energy Crisis
Germany’s Green Party and the coalition government in Berlin won’t give up on their overall goal, however. Even with abundant and cheap coal, they’ve moved up their phase-out target from 2038 up to 2030. That’s similar to the goals set by American President Joe Biden.
Economists say the goals in both Germany and the United States could usher in continued and long-term energy shortages and the permanent doubling of electrical rates for consumers.
Germany Delays Shutting Down Nuclear And Coal
Domestic nuclear output fell during the third quarter after Germany reduced the number of its active reactors to three from six a year earlier due to Berlin’s decision to phase out the technology following the Fukushima accident.
Back in October, Chancellor Olaf Scholz overruled his coalition by keeping the three remaining nuclear plants online until, at the latest, mid-April 2023.
“Only in Germany, with 10 gigawatts, is the reversal at a significant scale. This has increased coal power generation in the European Union, which is expected to remain at these higher levels for some time,” according to the IEA’s annual coal market report on Dec. 16.
Due to maintenance problems at French nuclear power plants, Germany has become, for the first time this year, a net exporter of electricity to France, said Destatis.
Nuclear reactor capacity in France is now at about 68 percent, from 50 percent last month, according to Bloomberg.
The IEA said that as French nuclear output recovers and electrical production from renewable energy in Germany increases, the country would likely return to being a net energy importer within a few years.
However, the German government had issued a waiver to keep open 1.6 GW of lignite-fired power plants through March 2024, instead of closing them by the end of 2022 as planned, Reuters reported.
The decommissioning of 2.6 GW of hard coal and 1.2 GW of lignite power plants in Germany have now been postponed.